Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Thieves Steal Fake Painting

Thieves Steal Fake Painting

Except it was a fake.

Police are now investigating the surveillance footage.

Thieves smashed open the painting's display case to snatch the painting, Crucifixion, from the church in Castelnuova Magra in Liguria and made off in a vehicle.

Crucifixion depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ from above.

Robbers deployed a hammer to break into its display case and escaped in a auto.

The town's mayor, Daniele Montebello, who police had informed about the operation, played along with the deception after the robbery, telling the Italian news agency ANSA: "It is a work of inestimable value, a hard blow for our community".

But unbeknownst to them, carabinieri had discreetly removed the original for safekeeping over a month ago after getting wind of a plot to steal it. Furthermore, the thieves had fallen right into a police trap that had required the cooperation of half the town to keep quiet.

The painting was previously stolen by local criminals in 1979.

"Rumors were circulating that someone could steal the work, and so the police chose to put it in a safe place, replacing it with a copy and installing some cameras", Mayor Daniele Montebello said Wednesday night.

He also thanked members of the church for holding their peace - "because some faithful had noticed that the one on display was not the original, but did not reveal the secret". In 1981, thieves were successful in stealing "The Crucifixion" but only briefly as they were caught just a few months later.

Originally bought from Bruegel by an Italian ambassador to the Netherlands, the painting was owned for a while by a family of Italian nobles before being donated to the church in the 19th century. In reality, the artwork they stole was a fake that was barely worth the canvass it was painted on.

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